Washington Roundtable releases new report, “The Path to 70% Credential Attainment.” Making progress, but not fast enough.

A new report from the Washington Roundtable and Partnership for Learning shows the progress the state is making toward a goal of 70 percent credential attainment. While the attainment rate is increasing, the pace of progress remains slow. The video above makes the point.

We’ve written often about the importance of postsecondary training and education. Confirming national research, analysis by the Washington Roundtable and the Boston Consulting Group established that most of the 740,000 projected job opening in our state in the near future would be filled by workers with postsecondary credentials

The new research from the Roundtable and Partnership for learning reaffirms early findings:

Demand for workers with postsecondary credentials is higher than it has ever been. A credential—such as a degree, apprenticeship, or certificate—is essential for anyone who wants a job that o ers a good salary and advancement opportunities. This is true for all workers, regardless of zip code, race, income, or gender.


  • Among Washington high school students, the credential attainment rate by age 26 will go from 31% for the high school class of 2006 to an estimated 40% for the high school class of 2015.
  • To reach the 70% credential attainment goal by the high school class of 2030, Washington must more than double the average annual growth rate in credential attainment – going from 0.9% per year to 2%.

The path to 70 percent is clearly charted in this infographic. An improved high school graduation rate may be a precondition, but it has not generated the necessary boost in credential attainment.

  • The high school graduation rate has been improving, moving from 75% for the high school class of 2006 to 82% for the class of 2015. Despite this improvement, the percentage of high school graduates enrolling in postsecondary education has remained stagnant.

And there’s also vital work to be done in closing demographic achievement gaps.

  • Closing race-, income-, and gender-based achievement gaps is essential. Credential attainment for white and Asian students is projected to be two to three times higher than that of Native American, Hispanic, or black students, depending on the subgroup. Also, just 31% of boys are projected to complete a credential by age 26, compared to 47% of girls.

Please read the full report and share it and the highlights with friends, colleagues and policymakers. It provides specific action steps on the path to 70 percent.

We must focus efforts to close achievement gaps and hit nation-leading benchmarks in high school graduation, postsecondary enrollment of high school graduates in programs at two- and four-year institutions, and graduation from those programs. Finally, we must successfully reengage students who fall out of the education pipeline prior to credential attainment.

Reaching our 70% goal will be challenging. Achieving it will require coordinated e orts from all of us—elected officials, educators, employers, community organizations, families, and the students themselves. We look forward to that collaboration, to setting annual goals, pursuing improvement, and measuring progress.

It’s an achievable goal, and one vital to expanding opportunity for Washingtonians and maintaining our state’s economic vitality.

Seattle City Council President says today’s vote on the head tax will “set the reset button.” Will it?

The Seattle City Council will hold a special meeting at noon today to repeal the controversial head tax. You can watch the proceedings here. The Seattle Times reports,

The Seattle City Council’s apparent reversal of the $275-per-employee head tax would deliver a major victory to businesses whose political influence has waned in recent years, while blind-siding homelessness services providers by wiping away their biggest achievement.

Leaders from both groups cautioned that while the homelessness response cannot slow down amid an ongoing emergency, the way forward was unclear and glimpses of common ground were fleeting.

The Times notes that business leaders in the city said they were ready to work cooperatively to find solutions to the homelessness crisis. In a statement, Marilyn Strickland, president of the Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce, said, 

“From day one, the Seattle Metro Chamber has been clear that a tax on jobs is not the way to address the regional homelessness crisis. Our business community is ready to work on solutions—from employment, to technological innovation, to housing. We look forward to collaborating with federal and state government and the region to help address issues that affect housing stability.”

Councilmembers clearly want to change the conversation. Geek Wire reports,

“The mistake would be to do nothing,” [City Council President Bruce] Harrell said in an interview with KING 5. “To put your head down and try to enact a strategy that a lot of people have a lot of problems with.”

Harrell went on to say that “tomorrow we will set the reset button.”

As SCC Insight writes, hitting the reset button may not mean the end of the head tax controversy.

While nothing with this Council is 100% certain until the vote is taken, it appears that tomorrow seven Council members (all but Mosqueda and Sawant) will vote to repeal the head tax, and Mayor Durkan will sign the bill. Of course, what is good for the goose is good for the gander: just as opponents of the head tax organized to file a referendum petition after it passed, supporters of the head tax could file a referendum petition on the repeal. If that were to happen, it would need to be filed with roughly 17,000 collected signatures within 30 days of the Mayor signing the repeal into law, and it would be placed on the November ballot (the King County Elections deadline is August 7).

Stay tuned.

Seattle Seattle Council schedules meeting to repeal head tax tomorrow.

We don’t remember anything like this happening before. The Seattle Times reports,

The Seattle City Council will consider repealing the city’s controversial new head tax less than a month after approving the measure, Council President Bruce Harrell has announced.

The move appears to have enough votes, with Harrell and six others on the nine-member council joining Mayor Jenny Durkan in a statement Monday signaling they support repealing the tax, which is supposed to fund affordable housing and homeless services.

The special meeting is scheduled for Tuesday. Harrell will sponsor the repeal legislation and expects a vote during the meeting.

As ST reporter Daniel Beekman writes,

Tuesday is also when a business-backed campaign has planned to submit petition signatures to qualify a referendum on the tax for the November ballot.

In our newsletter today (which we wish we’d held up an hour or so), we wrote that opponents were confident they had the signatures. And we cited a poll Crosscut reported on that showed widespread dissatisfaction with the City Council’s handling of taxes and homelessness.

The Times reports that the statement from the mayor and councilmembers ready to repeal the tax saying they want to avoid “a prolonged and expensive political fight.” 

Geek Wire reports on the campaign’s response.

The “No Tax on Jobs” campaign has until June 14 to submit a petition with at least 17,000 signatures to get a referendum on the November ballot. The campaign expects to exceed that goal.

Before the special meeting was announced, the referendum campaign notified the city of plans to submit the signatures Tuesday morning. John Murray, a spokesperson for the campaign, told GeekWire they will wait to see how the Council votes before submitting the signatures.

“The No Tax on Jobs Coalition appreciates that the Seattle City Council has heard the voices of the people loud and clear and are now reconsidering this ill-conceived tax,” Murray said in a statement.

The business community welcomed the news.

Seattle Metro Chamber of Commerce CEO Marilyn Strickland called the news the “breath of fresh air Seattle needs” in a statement provided to GeekWire.

And, of course, some councilmembers are not pleased.

In a statement, Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda said “a vote may go forward to repeal the tax” but that she “cannot back a repeal without a replacement strategy.” Meanwhile, Councilmember Kshama Sawant called it a “backroom betrayal” and said her office was not notified of the plan. Sawant and Mosqueda are the only councilmembers who did not co-sign the statement put out by Durkan.

The Seattle Times editorial board likes the expected “welcome reversal.” What’s not to like about it?

Tax Foundation: Washington has nation’s 10th highest state and local excise tax collections per capita

The Tax Foundation reports that Washington state and local governments collect $720 in excise taxes per capita, ranking us 10th highest in the nation. As the map above shows, border states Idaho (#49) and Oregon (#29) each rely much less on excise tax collections. 

Here’s what’s included:

Unlike a tax on a general base (like income or consumption), an excise tax is a tax on a specific good or activity. Excise taxes are commonly levied on cigarettes, alcoholic beverages, soda, gasoline, insurance premiums, amusement activities, and pari-mutuels (betting), among other goods and activities.

As the Tax Foundation writes, these taxes are often imposed as a quick way to raise money. And, as we’ve recently seen with the Seattle soda tax, they often come with another agenda.

To increase the chances of political viability, many proposed excise taxes come in the form of “sin” taxes on specified activities (such as smoking or drinking or gambling), with advocates touting the perceived public health benefits that result when higher prices lead to reduced consumption. However, since reduced consumption naturally leads to a decline in revenue, the goals of raising revenue while reducing consumption are contradictory.




Friday Roundup: After McCleary, income inequality, and concerns about the future of maritime work

There are always a few items we’ve read during the week that deserve more attention but don’t make it into our regular posts. So we bundle them for the Friday roundup.

Here’s this week’s bundle:

Seattle Times (editorial): McCleary is over, but work to improve education in Washington is not

The state has added $8 billion in state dollars to the K-12 budget since the Supreme Court’s 2012 McCleary decision. The Legislature met the court’s demands to take on the responsibility of paying for basic education, rather than relying on local property taxes. And some important education reforms like smaller classes in the early grades have been funded.

But the results are still lacking.

Too many high school students are dropping out before graduation, especially among children of color. For the class of 2017, 81.9 percent of white students graduated in four years, while 71.5 percent of black students, 72.7 percent of Hispanic students and 60.3 percent of American Indian or Alaskan Native students graduated.

Wall Street Journal (Kessler): The Canard About Falling Incomes 

As election season approaches, chants about the hollowed-out middle class predictably grow louder…. “In 1973, the inflation-adjusted median income of men working full time was $54,030. In 2016, it was $51,640,” the New York Times breathlessly reported last year….what makes this argument totally bogus—is the phrase “inflation-adjusted.”

The odoriferous offender is the manufacturer of inflation data, the Bureau of Labor Statistics. …As consumer items got more feature-rich and complex, the BLS simply couldn’t note the absolute price of, say, a microwave oven…

…the CPI absolutely doesn’t take today’s technology-infused lifestyle and work backward to show how much more expensive it would have been in 1973. Yet that’s what pundits infer when they talk about a hollowed-out middle class. How would the BLS reverse-decompose artificial intelligence and Alexa? Good luck with that.

The CPI is obsolete.

American Enterprise Institute: Yes, income inequality has stopped growing

A recent report from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has analyzed the data over the last four decades. From 1979 through 2007, inequality increased significantly, no matter how income was measured — whether or not it was based on market income (the sum of employment, business and capital income), or if it included government social insurance and safety-net payments, or if it subtracted federal tax payments. Depending on the income measure, the CBO found that inequality increased in this period between 23 percent and 31 percent.

But from 2007 through 2014, the figure stabilized. Looking at market income, inequality increased by only 3 percent. Once you add in cash payments and in-kind transfers from government safety net programs, inequality actually fell over this period.

Crosscut: Maritime workers wonder: Will there be a next generation?

Seattle owes its existence to the waterfront. But, in a city looking past heavier industries to a future powered by tech and service work, maritime workers and business owners wonder how long they will remain a vibrant part of the cityscape…

As the urban landscape transforms, Seattle’s maritime sector struggles to adapt on the land it already occupies. The sawmills and canneries that dotted Elliott Bay were swept away as the city evolved into a major gateway to Asia with a containerized shipping port. Now, shipyards – vital to maritime industry – continue their work even as condos and apartment towers rise near the waterfront industrial belts.

Geek Wire: Washington makes its pitch for Boeing’s future 797 jet

Boeing hasn’t yet declared whether it will build a new breed of midsize passenger jet — variously known as the New Mid-Market Airplane, NMA or 797 — but Washington state officials are already arguing they have the best place to build it.

And now they have a statistics-filled report to back up that claim.

The report, known as the Aerospace Competitive Economics Study or ACES, was researched and written up by aerospace consultants at the Teal Group and Olympic Analytics for labor unions at Boeing, on behalf of the Choose Washington New Mid-Market Airplane Council.


A welcome end. State Supreme Court concludes the state has complied with its McCleary order.

The state Supreme Court issued what surely is its final order in the McCleary lawsuit. 

The court concludes that the State has complied with the court’s orders to fully implement its statutory program of basic education by September 1, 2018, and has purged its contempt. This justifies the termination of the court’s retained jurisdiction and the lifting of the contempt  sanctions.

Therefore, it is hereby ORDERED:

(1) The monetary penalty of $100,000 per day is lifted, and the court approves the expenditure of funds deposited into the dedicated McCleary penalty account for the support of basic K-12 education.

(2) The request for prejudgment interest on sanctions denied.

(3) This court’s retention of jurisdiction pursuant to McCleary v.State, 173 Wn.2d 477,269P.3d227(2012), is terminated.

The welcome end of a long journey.

Statewide discussion of Seattle head tax continues, as new poll shows tax fatigue afflicts city’s residents. Tipping point?

In a recent column, AWB president Kris Johnson writes of how the Seattle head tax has garnered statewide attention.

As Seattle moves ahead with a plan to tax employers $275 per year per employee, the rest of the state is watching with a mix of disbelief, unease and even a little opportunism.

The disbelief comes out during conversations I’ve had with employers statewide and often comes back to a single question: What are they thinking?

As petitioners press on with efforts to force a referendum on the tax, a Seattle City Councilmember agrees that the issue has assumed outsize importance. Geek Wire reports,

…for Seattle City Councilmember Lorena González, one of the sponsors of the head tax legislation, the implications are much bigger.

Speaking at Seattle City Club’s Civic Cocktail on Wednesday alongside Seattle Chamber of Commerce CEO Marilyn Strickland, González said she believes the head tax debate is the first step in a larger discussion about social issues like income inequality and systemic racism not just in Seattle, but also across the state and the nation.

…She continued, “And I think it’s fair to say that this is a redefining moment in the city of Seattle…”

Probably little disagreement on that. In his column, Johnson points out other cities in the state are targeting recruiting efforts at Seattle businesses, as are cities across the country

And in the Legislature, Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, is proposing a bill banning cities from imposing a tax based on employee head count, wages or hours worked. Sen. Mark Mullet, D-Issaquah, said he plans to introduce legislation that would stop cities from implementing both a head tax and a business and occupation tax.

Bill Virgin writes in Seattle business about how the high cost of doing business King County is impacting business decisions now.

Shape Technologies, the private-equity owner of Kent-based Flow International, is moving Flow’s manufacturing operation to Kansas, resulting in the loss of 110 jobs locally.

“The cost of doing business in the Seattle area has changed dramatically over the last few years, and the cost of manufacturing in the region continues to climb,” Shape President and CEO David Savage said in a statement. “As we look into the future, we expect these operating challenges to continue to increase, and we are taking the step now to combine operations in order to remain competitive in our marketplace.”

In a column for Bloomberg News, Joni Balter writes,

The Seattle area has the third highest homeless population in the country. More money is spent each year as the problem deepens.

“We are already spending millions of dollars and so people lack confidence that these dollars are going to play a meaningful, incremental role,” said state Senator Reuven Carlyle, a Seattle Democrat who opposed the tax. “It comes at a big cost without buying us a big impact.”

…When Amazon makes its HQ2 announcement, which is expected soon, some psychological pressure on Seattle will ease. Another place will become the “it” city, with the prospect of thousands of new high-paying jobs stimulating the local economy.

Maybe then, Seattle and its smug City Council will pause, reflect and devise a better strategy for relating to the businesses that fill its tax coffers and fuel its prosperity.

Carlyle’s “big cost without buying us a big impact” line of reasoning appears to have caught on with Seattle voters. Crosscut report David Kroman writes about a poll showing an unusually skeptical Seattle electorate.

Seattle residents are not only deeply dissatisfied with how the Seattle City Council has addressed homelessness, but also less willing than they used to be to sign off on new taxes to address the problem, according to a poll of 800 likely voters conducted in March that Crosscut has obtained.

Those familiar with the results, who requested anonymity to discuss private polling, were stunned: It’s the first time anyone can recall the usually generous Seattle voters being overwhelmingly skeptical of additional taxation. 

Moreover, this is a shift from just 18 months prior, when voters responded more positively to the idea of increasing spending on homelessness, according to a separate poll conducted in late 2016 and published here for the first time. Crosscut was looking into the unpublished 2016 results when it learned of the new poll.

Key takeaways:

The results do not look great for the Seattle City Council, with strong dissatisfaction on how the elected officials have dealt with homelessness, taxes and housing: 

  • 80 percent were very or somewhat dissatisfied with how the council has addressed the rising cost of housing.
  • 61 percent were dissatisfied with progress on income inequality.
  • 55 percent were unhappy with what they perceived as high taxes.  
  • 83 percent were dissatisfied with how the Council has addressed homelessness, with a majority, 51 percent, responding “very dissatisfied.” 

With that dissatisfaction may come consequences. A slim 29 percent believed city government needs more taxes to address homelessness, while 63 percent believe it already has enough and can solve the problem with more effective spending. 

There’s more, but taken with the KIRO poll showing 54 percent opposition to the head tax, the folks gathering signatures must feel very encouraged. 

Johnson offers an alternative to Seattle policymakers.

There are challenges that need addressing in Seattle and throughout the state. But with tax revenue growing at the current rate, it’s doubtful that more taxes will solve them. The better solution is to grow the economy and encourage job creation, which will continue expanding the tax base.

Makes sense.




Study: Washington is best place for Boeing to build its new jet. The data support the conclusion.

Gov. Inslee and members of his Choose Washington NMA (New Mid Market Airplane) Council recently completed a press conference announcing the results of a state-commissioned study evaluating where among the 50 states Boeing should build its highly-anticipated new plane.

The result: Washington ranks No. 1.

 In the Seattle Times, Dominic Gates reports,

The conclusion of an aerospace industry study released Wednesday will not come as a shock and will certainly be dismissed as biased by some outside Washington state.

Still, Richard Aboulafia, a respected aerospace-industry analyst and the study’s lead author, asks you to hold your skepticism.

…Aboulafia, a vice president at the Teal Group consulting firm in Fairfax, Va., said his 42-page report is based on independent, rigorous data measuring factors relevant to aerospace production, including costs, tax structure, skilled labor availability and global trade connectivity.

His conclusion: “Strictly by the numbers, Washington state is in a class by itself.” Aboulafia added, “ It has weaknesses, but in the overall ranking, nothing comes close.”

The study is posted at the state Commerce Department. It offers a transparent statement of the factors considered and the weight analysts assigned to each.

The report states,

The assigned weights are based on an assessment of how impactful the category might be to the overall productivity and profitability of an aerospace company. The higher the likely impact to the income statement and profits, the higher the weight assigned. The metrics and categories chosen include elements that are directly or indirectly impactful. Direct impacts score a higher weight than indirect impacts. Additional discussion of the methodology is presented at the end of this document.

The Costs category carries the greatest individual weight (twenty percent). The metrics included in this category (labor, material, energy and construction costs) are more directly related to a company’s actual cost of operations than are metrics in other categories (i.e. education levels or spending on R&D). The Costs category is not intended to fully represent the actual cost of operations, but only aggregate measures that relate to operational costs, thereby impacting the overall competitive environment. A company’s actual costs of operations are heavily dependent on its structure, requirements, supplier relationships and agreements, and numerous other factors.

Here’s the report’s summary assessment of Washington’s position:

Washington scored extremely well across all categories and was a top ten finisher in all but one. It ranked first in two categories: Economy and Industry, while finishing second in Labor & Education and Costs. It was ranked number five in Risk to Operations, Research & Innovation and Taxes & Incentives. Infrastructure was the only category where Washington fell outside the top ten.

Ranked behind Washington in the top 5 are Ohio, North Carolina, Kansas, and Colorado.

In the one-page discussion of Washington (page 15 of the report), The Teal Group writes,

The State of Washington is a strong first place finisher as the most competitive place for aerospace manufacturing operations. It scores high in nearly all the evaluation categories and many of the individual metrics…

What makes it especially competitive is its advantages beyond aerospace experience, namely low Energy Costs (#1), which are increasingly important due to the growing use of energy-intensive composite structures manufacturing in aircraft, high Port Volume (#4), low Insurance Losses (#2), high Patents per Capita (#3), high Private R&D (#5), and lower Individual Income Tax (#1) and Manufacturing Taxes (#4).

The study, of course, is neither predictive nor determinative. Boeing will makes its own decision, using its own set of criteria. But The Teal Group report should not be viewed as a “homer” study. We agree that it’s an independent, data-driven analysis. And one that, we can’t help mentioning, recognizes that costs are a significant factor in location and expansion decisions. No income tax and low manufacturing taxes on aerospace clearly worked in the state’s favor in the ranking.